Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength. -Ralph W. Sockman
So here I am, the day after the election results. There’s a lot of feels. And yet last night I read a few books to a five year old, I made dinner and homemade bread and muffins. I fed my people. I listened to my housemate’s grief and tears over how torn she is over the elections. She works in one of the inner city schools. The students are scared. I went to receive a medicinal injection for an injury yesterday. The doctor said he hasn’t felt a day this dark since post Sept. 11th. Maybe that’s a gross overstatement to some, but it feel legitimate where I live. He was very sad. His family was grieved. He apologized to me and hoped that I could continue to get the care I need to live semi-pain free. I’m not sure what will happen. I don’t have much confidence in the nation or the church. I cried a lot before bed last night.
Tender, she said again. Tender is kind and gentle. It’s also sore, like the skin around an injury.-Brenna Yovanoff
Today I had double physical therapy (two therapists, two locations). Both my therapists were hurting. One is gay and has a baby who is adorable. The other is Asian, married to a white man, and they have one bio daughter and a Haitian daughter. My physical therapy assistant told me today about what her holidays are like. She’s from another country. One that doesn’t value women. She discussed with me very detailed pains from her childhood that led her down alcoholism and that on the day she decided to wish her father a Happy Father’s day, he emailed her right back to say “Thanks, I’m going to shoot myself today. Bye.” She shared with me what it’s been like for her in this country. That one of the few people who have loved her died in August and that the holidays will be exceptionally difficult. The election has brought up a lot, for many people.
I flat out told one of my therapists who’s gay, “I know you know I am a christian. I know you have shown great care for me. I want you to know I care about you, your rights, and your child. And I am so sorry for the way Christians have spoken about your sexual orientation. I am so sorry”. She’s a lovely woman. She’s terrified because the soon to be vice president believes in therapy to re-orient someones gender identity and sexual orientation. This form of therapy has been proven to be DANGEROUS. Nearly all centers like it have been sued because so many individuals have committed suicide while in it. Her assistant is terrified because even though she’s a legal immigrant, she regularly faces discrimination.
My other physical therapist was angry. Very angry about the election. She can handle the discrimination she faces daily as a minority, but her 7 year old can’t and shouldn’t have to. She’s afraid of the day someone says something to her husband about either his wife or children and he reacts angrily. She’s had a lifetime of learning to be gracious with discrimination and racism. He’s never had to. He’s a white man, who now deeply loves women who are not white.
Oh that gentleness! How far more potent it is than force! -Jane Eyre
So last night I read books to a 5 year old. She played her very first game of “Go fish” with me. We yelled GROAN in the parts of the Mo Willems book there those letters are very big (Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems is a favorite of mine!). It felt so good to groan loudly, to let it go so big that I needed a drink of water to cleanse my throat.
I said goodbye to a friend and her family as she left today for a big move out of the country. I snuggled the most squishy baby I’ve ever met. I soaked in his giant smile. She has asked me several times to move out of the country with her family. Because outside of America, family means something very different. I prayed for her and I thanked God for her and I fed her and I wept with her and she held me.
I made muffins to give to a friend who was up all election night sick from the news. I did everything slow, by hand. The muffins, the bread. No mixers, nothing. I needed to slow down life. Slow down the world. Focus on caring for those around me. To listen, to give, to sacrifice, to grieve.
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. -Max Lucado
And as I cried in bed late into the night, I thought about the things that terrify me about this world, this country. And let myself soak in the soothing parts of that day.. GROANING, feeding, mixing, praying, togetherness, stories I didn’t know. And I thought that’s just it. That’s what it means to be a minister of reconciliation. To bear witness to one another’s pain, to sit in it with them. And to let it soak so deep into your bones that it compels you to love others more fully, to seek Jesus more passionately, and to live more gentley. Life is hard. People are fragile. And I want to focus on restoring, even when the world feels bent on breaking me apart. Shalom.
As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity, we make friends with the imposter and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that, if we were not, we would be God. The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others-and it is a natural prerequisite for our presence to God in prayer.-Brennan Manning